Rookie camp is underway for the Nashville Predators and with it brings a slew of players ready to make an impression on the coaching staff for both the Predators and Milwaukee Admirals. As it goes with every season, new faces will be joining the ranks in Milwaukee as players make the shift from junior hockey to professional hockey in the American Hockey League.
Defenseman Alexandre Carrier is ready for the jump. The 2015 fourth round pick (115th overall) by Nashville joined Milwaukee last season after his junior season completed, but was only able to practice with the team. Carrier, who spent four seasons with the Gatineau Olympiques out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, is part of the new breed of defensemen joining the system for the Nashville Predators. It is clear that the focus is on puck-moving defenseman that are speedy and have the ability to score while also being responsible in their own end. Carrier fits that model. During the 2015-16 season, Carrier was sixth on his team in points with a total of 47 (12G-35A), and he was only able to play in 57 regular season games.
On November 12, 2015, Carrier signed his first pro contract, a three-year entry-level contract with the Nashville Predators. On April 21, 2016, the Predators assigned him to Milwaukee, where he received his first taste of being a pro. Now, as fall looms, he’s looking forward to his first season as a professional hockey player.
“It feels good. It’s been a long summer,” said Carrier. “I worked out hard a lot. I wanted to be ready, so that’s what I did, and I’m excited for it.”
Carrier’s face beamed as he spoke about his offseason. He spent it continuing to work on and off the ice, but the excitement in his voice for the beginning of the season couldn’t be contained as he reiterated how long the offseason was for him.
“[I was] working out every day and then going out on the ice with a skill coach,” said Carrier. “I have a diet. It’s a pro life, so it’s a nice life. I was enjoying it, but I’m excited to start the season because the off season was pretty long.”
As the NHL continues to evolve, athletes do as well. Young athletes know the importance of eating well and treating their body right in order to have long careers. Carrier understands that it will take a healthy diet for him to continue to move up the ranks as his career progresses.
“First of all you want to be healthy, you don’t want to get injured,” explained Carrier. “The food is part of it. You get more energy when you eat well, so I think it’s very important. It prepares you to be a pro because it’s a lot of energy to prepare your food, buy good food and be ready.”
Being prepared was a theme with Carrier. The amount of focus can be seen on his face even off the ice. Part of it may be because he’s considered undersized as a defenseman, standing at 5’11” and 174lbs. He’s still young at 19 and can continue to bulk up while in Milwaukee. Being considered undersized doesn’t necessarily mean Carrier will struggle at his position in the pros, just look at Ryan Ellis. It’s safe to say he and the organization have expectations on him to continue to get stronger.
“They just want me to be ready and to get more powerful,” said Carrier. “That’s what they asked during the summer, to get stronger.”
Carrier brings a sense of poise to the locker room. He was an alternate captain with the Olympiques and has been in the system now for two summers. With the string of Predators draft picks, among camp invitees, coming from the QMJHL (a total of six on the rookie roster), Carrier can be a leader, even as a rookie.
“It’s a different life, right,” said Carrier in regards to starting as a rookie again. “I’ve been a rookie too, so I know what it is like. I think if the rookies need a leader, I can help with them. [That] background can help for sure.”
It’s been seen before that certain teams in juniors become a feeder to the Predators at times. The Windsor Spitfires and Kelowna Rockets provided multiple players to the organization. With the rise of the QMJHL, a few other players from the Olympiques are also either part of the organization, like Yakov Trenin, or received a tryout agreement for rookie camp, like Gabryel Paquin-Boudreau. Either way, the speediness of the Quebecers is not going unnoticed by the Nashville Predators, and Carrier is ready to show the organization why is what smart to take him at last year’s draft.